Let’s catch up on all the CL/Europa action from the Round of 16 onwards. 

Obviously most of these matches are gone but with next season in mind, it is well worth knowing which winners demonstrated real quality, which got lucky, and which players have shown strong ability but missed out on wins or big scores.

I’ve spent today on the Europa League, the Champions League is coming tomorrow.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Europa League

Standout Performers

Whether they produced big scores in the Europa games or not, these are a selection of players that showed quality and promise with next season in mind.

Nico Barella

Historically I have never been much of a Barella fan. He always looked a bit soft for performance scoring. This looked right as he did disappoint early and drop sharply from his hype fueled £1.70 high. Even in the 23rd July Europa League preview I didn’t include him. 

However by 3rd August scouting I noted a clear improvement. His performances were starting to change my mind especially because he had dropped and was available for under £1 on a bid by then.

He’s firmly establishing in the side now and playing well, getting his first win last night all be it with a soft score. I don’t think he is exceptional the same way Eriksen might be (who Barella is possibly keeping out of the side!). He’s got to prove he can score more frequently. Whilst we haven’t seen many goals we have seen him get more quality chances recently so that is possible. 

And the overall game is there to make those goals count if they come. We did see a nicely taken goal vs Leverkusen though he was a touch unfortunate it wasn’t the match winner, and Inter were happy to give up possession which stifled scores across the board. But on a more normal day for him when he scores I’d expect much better than he got.

3 out of 5 stars with a potential 3.5 out of 5 stars in my ratings feels right. He’s more of an occasional winner rather than exceptional. But for the price which is still just £1.19 on the bid, the age, and the profile including substantial Italy minutes… looking a solid pick that can easily rise based off just one big score.

Romelu Lukaku

It’s a toss up as to whether I file him under “standout performers” or “questionable winner” at this point!

I liked him in the Europa preview on July 23rd but he was available for £1.45 on a bid back then as opposed to £2 on the bid now or £2.15 Blue Button. If anyone’s making big profits in recent weeks then it has been going for things like this. A bit like Ben Yedder in my State of the Market update yesterday – it should not be this easy!

It’s not like this pick was particularly difficult to find given the August Gold Day schedule and that most people are aware Lukaku scores goals.

So let’s say we could get him for £1.45 on the 23rd July the day I wrote the preview.  You’ve snagged 22p in match day dividends, 35p in IPD, and could today Instant Sell for £2. By my count that’s 39% of the purchase price in dividends in less than a month plus a 37.9% capital increase. 

That’s just silly especially when you consider what a well known and pretty obvious pick this was going into the Europa. Sure Inter could have gone out and it might not have turned out so well – but at the starting buy price of £1.45 this was no disaster as he could comfortably be held into next season at that price. It was a really good value bet without much downside.

However, price is everything. After this rise would I hang on too much longer? Probably not. He’s not a brilliant performance player and whilst I’d be happy to take him at £1.50 to £1.75… £2+ after a rise? I’d probably bank it. With a player like this you want a live IPD window so there is nothing to stop you going back to him later and cashing in whilst people see a reason to buy ahead of the final is sensible.

Sergio Reguilon

This is a really good example of how traders tend to get too excited when things seem to be going right for a player but also too down when some bad news comes along.

The assumption that he was going back to Real to slot in at left back straight away was too optimistic. When it didn’t happen he crashed from his £1.88 high and by the Europa preview on the 23rd he was available for £1.17 on a bid. Too pessimistic and I liked him for that price.

I didn’t expect an instant win for him but he’s a decent player and given enough time one was likely to come along. Having taken a Gold Day star player he’s £1.57 on a bid. Another really rapid and relatively straight forward big profit was available here for very little risk at the starting price.

He also has some interesting transfer rumours now including Arsenal, Chelsea and Napoli. Napoli are a club I like that I think have underperformed although I don’t typically rate their defensive assets so I am not entirely convinced by that move. 

I currently consider him more good than great at 3 out of 5 stars in my ratings. But he could improve with a bigger club. Chelsea would seem like the best move in terms of performance potential. 

By this point I think he is fair value rather than great value. Holdable, but cashing it in and looking for something else now is also a viable option.


Suso has long been a high potential but largely disappointing player. 

It can be really frustrating when a player is so close to huge scores but never quite making it through a combination of poor form and in some cases bad luck. It makes them hard to drop because there are valid reasons to think a breakout is just around the corner.

The switch to Sevilla started promising but soured quickly, not helped by a niggling injury. 

He’s played a big part in Sevilla’s run to the final though, starting all 3 games in August with 1 goal to draw level with Manchester United. More impressive actually was his display against Wolves where he reached elite baseline levels. It’s a shame his goal didn’t come in that game or it would have been an explosion.

Looking really good to me at this £1 bid price. The risk is there because he still has to firmly establish in this side. But the price feels right to match that. 

He can put up big scores. Sevilla are in good shape and in the CL this year (with the Europa final this week a nice bonus). And it wasn’t long ago he was playing for Spain so a good run in La Liga could see him back in contention. Still just 26 too.

Better news for holders after a bleak period but the good thing about quality players is that even when they get down they have a decent chance of bouncing back.

Bruno Fernandes

Delivered a Gold Day win in a match he probably didn’t deserve to vs Copenhagen. And didn’t vs Sevilla when most people would have said he played much better. But he was close to a second win even then if not for United’s collapse.

That’s often the way of FI performance scoring – it sometimes appears logical to an average football fan but sometimes it really doesn’t. One of the key indicators you have a real performance player on your hands is that they put up good numbers even when people think they played badly. 

The important thing is the consistency which continues to be there.

I find myself with little left to say about Bruno after this amazing season. Barring some significant tactical change he’s likely to keep challenging again and again next season and he continues to look like one of the few premiums who deserves his price.

Kerem Demirbay

Despite falling foul of Inter there were some good performances from Leverkusen and Demirbay was one of them.

Really strong possession and he managed 3 shots although watching them I’d only call 1 a real chance. Struggled in early season but improved in 2020. He has shown the numbers to suggest he can be a regular big scorer if he settles.

He’s still a game time risk but I think at £1.21 he’s a good option to take into next season or at least closely watch in pre-season.

Exequiel Palacios

Palacios impressed me again with very tidy baseline friendly play over both games. Lots of involvement per minute with very high passing accuracy in particular. 

Goal threat has been absent in recent games but historically for River Plate he had regular chances, and should probably have scored more than 3-5 a season. He’s not going to be a winner every week but he has the capacity to show up with a very big score a few times a season. 

And for the money at a bid price of £1.21 right now that looks a good pick to take into next season to me. 

Edmond Tapsoba

I was looking forward to Leverkusen’s young CB Tapsoba at IPO but I loathed his starting £1.75+ price tag. Here is my colourful review from June: 

“More from youngster Tapsoba. Looks a tidy CB and his passing is great – hoping to see him for IPO and I’m hoping everyone sods off and leaves him alone so he can stay cheap and then earn a higher price.”

We’re seeing that quality come through now in some decent FI scores. His performance versus Rangers was particularly strong. And he even had a chance to score. 

Unfortunately, the starting price set by FI was way too high. Where’s the value in speculating on good potential young players if they are already the same price as established quality? You expect that from traders because they are often crazy but FI shouldn’t set those prices.

To be clear he’s a centre back and they are always going to struggle on FI in this scoring system. But he is a talented one with very strong passing ability, often reaching well over 100 passes per game at high accuracy. That’s fashionable so if he proves he can defend too it won’t be long before a big club circles. And he can win occasionally on soft days with little competition.

At this point with a bid around £1.48 possible that is much more acceptable and it goes to show you don’t need to chase the IPOs – you can often just wait for them to settle and come back later.

Filip Kostic

Frankfurt may have gone out with a whimper early on to Basel but Kostic had a good game. 

I may have in the past described Kostic as an overpriced player with the passing accuracy of a clown being fired out of a cannon and I don’t regret it. It’s also true that the boosted European scores on his CV make him look better than he is.

However. He can be an occasional winner and now that the hype has gone and the price has dived from a high of £2.50 to just £1.66 on a bid now I think that’s a decent shout.

Still has some interesting transfer rumours live too including Inter. That could be just as well with Eintracht out of Europe next term. Being a Serbia regularly compensates for that a bit though.

Price changes everything and at lower prices we don’t need perfection.

Marcus Rashford

Rashford has had some stick for performances in 2020 and he did nothing to prove that wrong in these games. Actually though the numbers were quite good and that’s been a theme throughout 2020 – I noted an improvement in July scouting bumping him up to a 3.5 out of 5 stars in my ratings.

That’s an important milestone in my mind because that’s where a player becomes better than just decent and starts looking like a regular contender.

What the fans say and what the numbers for FI say are not always the same thing.

I was however concerned about the price and it was really cranking up in June as high as £8.47. Now however you may be able to get him on a bid for £6.16 and that looks decent to me. 

He’s only 22, has been improving in his numbers, ticks a lot of the Core player boxes and it is extremely unlikely to be the last time Rashford is seen as desirable. Before 2020 many would have said it was shaping up to be his best ever season so it shows how quickly moods can change.

If you are ever going to sign up players this obvious and this popular for value – you’ve really got to do it when they hit a temporary rough patch and others are desperate to sell.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Questionable Performers

Lautaro Martinez

Despite the big (boosted) score last night Martinez remains a very awkward FI fit who contributes little more than goals and occasional assists. It’s not enough to be a regular contender week in, week out.

Not really any different from Lukaku above in terms of quality. But very different in terms of value and that’s why I did not favour Martinez in the preview.

Goals always count for something but as your price creeps higher you need more than that. Transfer hype pushed his price much too high and he has dropped hard as that faltered. The transfer could still reignite and there may be another wave of hype yet. 

But you aren’t left with much to fall back on if the move doesn’t happen because he’s really poor for FI purposes. The win doesn’t really change much for him.

Brandon Williams

I won’t spend too much time on Williams because there isn’t a great deal to say. He managed a win on a soft day in a game with extra time but week in week out he is really poor for FI. I give him 2 out of 5 stars in my ratings for a reason.

Unless Manchester United dramatically change style there isn’t much hope for any better. 

He’s dropped a lot since his £2+ days but £1.49 on the bid is still far too much. We all take losses from time to time. But there are good losses and bad losses. This is one of those self inflicted wounds that a trader can’t really complain about if they take because they were clearly pulled in by hype not substance.

Jesus Navas

It feels harsh to put him here because he’s a decent player and has every chance of getting a third win of the month in the Europa Final. 

At just 26p on a bid another Gold Win alone pays for most of him and he’s contracted for another season. But at 34… I’m not sure it’s worth it by this point. 

If we were going to go for him we should have done it ahead of the Europa run and I certainly didn’t in the preview. I’m much more relaxed on age than most, but to a point!

Paul Pogba

A hideous car crash of a trade this season – safe to say I’ve never been a fan. He’s ended up about even on the Blue Button price in what has been (until corona came along anyway) a huge year of market growth. Though the current bid price is much lower.

And that is with holders getting lucky and him staying. If it had gone the other way he could be closer to £4 than the current £5.40 bid. This is the sort of trade that makes me want to bang my head on the wall because the risk versus reward is all kinds of wrong.

But what if he does settle? Is there a value opportunity there if he commits at this point?

His performances are certainly decent and that was no different in the Europa. 

Losing penalties was a blow and with the way Bruno takes them he’s unlikely to get them back. But his baselines are strong and he does have some open play goal threat. Plus the media pull can’t be denied (although I expect media to be harder to come by next year as discussed in State of the Market). 

Overall I would say at this point £5.40 is a fair price for what you get provided you really believe he is set to stay long term and are willing to bet on that

Personally, I see no point in making that gamble because whilst it’s not the car crash trade it was at this point there are far better options available.

Moussa Diaby

He did bag the winner vs Rangers but ended up with a soft score. He just seems to be one of those players on social media who get pushed and pushed for no real reason – he’s in no way exceptional for FI.

In Scouting I really liked him early on when he was around £1 but as he approached £2 it felt too much. He ended up at £2.46 before crashing back to £2. On a bid for £1.71 again… that’s actually not bad. 

I note as I write that he is apparently a forward now. That is news to me and may be very new. This is a bonkers change because he has the same playing position as many wingers who are midfielders! Positions for wingers are a mess.

Anyway. If that change sticks it really, really helps him. He’s too lightweight in midfield but as a forward he can be a contender with a matchwinner and his scoring rate is decent. 

I would now go back to Diaby after the apparent positional switch and the price drop. 

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Europa League Final Preview

The bookies make Inter significant favourites at decimal odds of 2.1 vs 3.4 for Sevilla. 

The fivethirtyeight.com algorithm though makes it pretty much a 50/50 toss up. I’m on the algorithm’s side and I have noticed it tends to be good at flagging up when general perceptions/betting odds are too optimistic for a team.

Also worth noting that the Marseille vs St Etienne game was postponed giving a clear run for this game to be uncontested. Thank God if only to avoid the moaning on social media.

An interesting facet to this match is that Inter usually give up possession when facing anything like a decent team and are happy to counter. So it wouldn’t be an outrage if Inter won the game but Sevilla players won the dividends if it’s a tight scoreline.

Without a glut of goals most Inter players are not going to be scoring highly if they play on the counter so it’s just as well that Marseille match got bumped.

Strategically, particularly at this point I am not a fan of making punts just on a single match that we know doesn’t go anywhere – there is no next game to get to here this is it.

So if we want involvement in the match the best way to do that for me would be in value players that we are content to take into the season anyway. Both clubs have European involvement next season so this is easy to do.

With that in mind my picks would be Barella and Suso – both value players who have shown strong improvement as above. And if I have to pick one – Suso.

Another good value option not covered above would be Brozovic. He hasn’t scored in a while although has had chances. If one of those flies in he could score big and based on expected goals he is overdue. He can also win on baseline alone in a one off game like this. 

And given the £1.07 bid price for a player you can hold for a while anyway there is not much to lose here.

I would consider Lukaku and Reguilon as they are solid prospects and the prices aren’t outrageous. But as above, unlike the last preview, holders have probably had the best rise out of them they are getting for a while. 

If we see Eriksen start I’d be very keen as he looks Inter’s best performance player by a mile. Except it counts for very little if he isn’t on the pitch. This is unlikely – Conte is not one to tinker with a winning formula. 

Banega is obviously a likely winner but there isn’t much you can do with that since he is retiring from top tier football very soon. A potential spoiler for traders although those who are stuck with him will be very grateful for more parting gifts!

En-Nesyri is still surprisingly cheap perhaps as people worry about selling “an IPD player” ahead of a Final. Maybe giving them their wish is a good idea. This 66p bid for some potential IPD, a possible win? Pretty good for a 23 year old decent striker who will probably have other days in the sun as the season restarts. My favourite punt.

Ocampos is another credible winner. He’s had his hype spells. I actually consider him a bit soft for FI scoring but not everyone knows that. And at a current £1.08 bid that’s a fair price. If he doesn’t bring home the dividend in the Final holding him into next season is viable.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Tomorrow I'll be giving the Champions League the same treatment so check back then!

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